4727.0.55.003 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012-13  
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MEDIA RELEASE
10 September 2014
Embargo: 11:30 am (Canberra Time)
132/2014

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience diabetes 20 years earlier than non-Indigenous adults


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to have diabetes, and they experience it at much younger ages, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

"Results from the largest ever biomedical collection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which collected information on a wide range of chronic diseases and nutrition, reveal that diabetes is a major concern," said Dr Paul Jelfs from the ABS.

"The voluntary blood test results showed that in 2012–13, one in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had diabetes. This means that, when age differences are taken into account, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to have diabetes."

"What was even more striking was how much earlier in life Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience diabetes. In fact, the equivalent rates of diabetes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were often not reached until 20 years later in the non-Indigenous population." said Dr Jelfs.

The survey revealed that diabetes was twice as common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in remote areas. Around one in five in remote areas had diabetes compared with around one in ten in non-remote areas.

Also of interest was the fact that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with diabetes also had signs of other chronic conditions.

"More than half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with diabetes also had signs of kidney disease. This compared with a third of non-Indigenous adults with diabetes", said Dr Jelfs.

"Given these findings, it is not surprising that the death rate for diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is seven times higher than for non-Indigenous people."

Other results released today suggest that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults may not be aware they have high cholesterol, with one in four having high cholesterol levels, yet only one in ten being aware they had it.

Further information is available in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.003) available for free download on the ABS website.

Media notes:
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.